When you Suffer, entrust your soul to a Faithful and Sovereign God3
All suffering passes through God’s hands. Nothing befalls us that he does not permit or fail to use for our ultimate good. We see this especially at the close of the passage we’ve been examining. Continue reading . . .
All suffering passes through God’s hands. Nothing befalls us that he does not permit or fail to use for our ultimate good. We see this especially at the close of the passage we’ve been examining.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:12-19).
People who try to solve the problem of suffering by saying it is not God's will in any sense, must take a long detour around this verse. If the fiery trial is the judgment of God beginning at the church, then it is his will that we suffer. We must not dishonor God by thinking that every time we suffer he has lost control or dropped the reins. His ways are strange, but they are his ways. And our duty is to trust that he is a faithful Creator who only has our best interest at heart.
Suffering is not outside the will of God. It is in God's will. This is true even when Satan may be the immediate cause. God is sovereign over all things, including our suffering, and including Satan. I would remind you of Paul’s thorn in the flesh in 2 Cor. 12.
God is called “Creator” in this context to emphasize his complete and comprehensive sovereignty over your life and all that you encounter. The God who called everything into existence out of nothing oversees every dimension of your life, especially your suffering for his name’s sake.
But why does Peter focus here on God’s “faithfulness”? What is he faithful to do in these circumstances? He is faithful to fulfill his promises, never to forsake you. He is faithful to work all things together for your good and his glory. He is faithful to use suffering to conform you to Christ and to bring you finally and fully into the eternal kingdom of his Son.
I love the pastoral and practical wisdom of Peter! Here at the end, it’s almost as if he looks across the spectrum of the people to whom he is writing, and to us today as well, and says:
“Hey folks, I know it’s hard. Suffering, in whatever form it takes, is discombobulating! It throws us off our pace, in ways that we often can’t anticipate. But no matter how confusing it may be, no matter how frustrating and baffling and uncomfortable it becomes, you can still entrust your souls to a faithful Creator all the while you continue to live a godly and obedient life.
I know that for some of you suffering still comes as a something of a shock. It caught you unaware and perhaps unprepared. That’s ok. Just entrust your soul to a faithful Creator and don’t give up on doing good.
For others of you, rejoicing when you suffer is a bit of a stretch right now. You’re not there yet. You want to, but it feels a bit beyond your grasp at this stage. That’s ok. Just entrust your soul to a faithful Creator and don’t give up on doing good.
And I’m sure there are some who feel anything but blessed when hard times come. You’re grateful for the promised presence of God’s Spirit, but even then you waver in your faith and you wonder if God is good. But you can still entrust your soul to a faithful Creator and not give up on doing good.
And if you had an opportunity to glorify God when suffering hit home and you blew it, God hasn’t abandoned you. Learn from the fiery trial, grow from the experience, and always and ever entrust your soul to the faithful Creator as you seek, by his grace, to do good.”